The Territory Marking Behaviour of a Tiger (Panthera tigris)

The Territory Marking Behaviour of a Tiger (Panthera tigris)

While walking in Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary during the month of May, we spotted a big male tiger walking on a game path. Following at a respectable distance we kept the tiger in sight to observe its behavior.

 

The Territory Marking Behaviour of a Tiger (Panthera tigris)

While walking in Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary during the month of May, we spotted a big male tiger walking on a game path. Following at a respectable distance we kept the tiger in sight to observe its behavior.

After 300 yards the tiger entered the fair weather road of the sanctuary, which was lined with trees on both sides. The tiger started marking its territory. Turning its back towards a tree and lifting its tail vertically it would spray a tree with urine and then turn around to sniff it. If satisfied that the scent was appropriate it moved on and sprayed another tree on the other side of the road.

In this fashion alternating right and left sides of the road, it sprayed five trees each time checking the scent and re-spraying if necessary to reassure itself that the smell was strong enough to warn intruders and attract females in heat.

After this, the tiger turned towards the left side of the road, which had low bushes but did not spray there. After another 150 yards it entered a narrow ravine and again sprayed urine on a tree and then entered a dense patch of forest disappearing from sight.

The average distance between two markings was 37 yards among the first five markings at an average height of 40-44 inches from the ground.

The organ in the body of the tiger is situated low, but while marking the territory they spray upwards at nostril level of a grown tiger so that other tigers can get a whiff of the scent easily. The fact that it did not mark the low bushes strengthens this contention.

Published in Tiger Paper (Regional Quarterly Bulletin on Wildlife and National Parks Management): Tehsin, R. H. & Nathawat, J. S. (1992) The Territory Marking Behaviour of a Tiger (Panthera tigris) Tiger Paper XIX (2): 7

Editor’s Note:

As appreciated and pointed by Dr. R. L. Brahmachari of Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, at the time of publication this was the third observation in record of spraying as opposed to ordinary urination. Locke in ‘Tigers of Trengganu’ recorded the first observation and then Schaller brought it to notice of scientists. Dr. Brahmachari further wrote that it astonishes that men like Inglis, Brander and Corbett never noticed spraying.

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